In this coming-of-age fable from Kazakhstan, five boys live the most austere of lives on their family’s desolate homestead, performing manual labor at their strict father’s bidding against a barren landscape awash in nothing but pale shades of yellow, gray, and brown. As the oldest, teenaged Aslan does his best to live up to his roles as both deputy taskmasker and his brothers’ keeper. To reward them for their toil, he decides one day, a swim in the river won’t hurt.
And it doesn’t—in fact, it’s a taste of freedom the siblings never imagined to be so sweet. Granted, what’s even harder for them to imagine is the freedom enjoyed by their cousin Kanat, who has just shown up out of the blue (or rather, the yellow, gray, and brown) with an electric hoverboard, a tablet computer, and the skills to fix the family’s broken TV set. Suddenly, they’ve seen enough of the outside world to register discontent with their own lot—and, by extension, with one another. But as the ties that bind them loosen, so does their grasp of what’s right.
At moments harrowing, at others harshly comical, writer/director Emir Baigazin’s allegory of innocence and experience is above all dreamily, startlingly strange.
Producer: Emir Baigazin | Editor: Emir Baigazin | Cinematographer: Emir Baigazin | Screenwriter: Emir Baigazin
Cast: Zhalgas Klanov, Zhasulan Userbayev, Ruslan Userbayev, Eric Tazabekov
Additional Countries: Poland, Norway